Garlic breath? Not a problem if you’re trying to reduce your risk of cancer.

A recent study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that eating allium vegetables could reduce a person’s risk of developing colon and rectal cancers. Allium vegetables include shallots, onions, leeks, chives, and garlic.

The study was conducted between 2009 and 2011 in three hospitals in Northeastern China. Dietary information was collected by in-person interviews using a validated food frequency questionnaire and demographics were also collected. There were a total of 833 colon and rectal cancer patients matched to 833 controls.

In short, the study found that the odds of having colorectal cancer were nearly 80% lower in adults who ate high amounts of allium vegetable compared with those who ate low amounts.

If I eat more onions will I reduce my risk?

There is no superfood that can ward off cancer completely, and it’s highly unlikely that increasing the amount of chives you eat will be the one thing that significantly slashes your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Rather, risk reduction for average-risk adults is multi-faceted and requires a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine colorectal cancer screening intervals. Even following these tips doesn’t guarantee that you will never face a cancer diagnosis. This is because there are some risk factors that are out of our control, including age and genetics.

When it comes to the foods we eat, it’s best to eat a balanced diet, treating food as medicine by ensuring a variety of fruits, vegetables (like allium vegetables!), whole grains, and legumes.

Nutrition research

Nutrition research is incredibly important in the fight against cancer. Good diet and nutrition can help reduce the risk of certain cancers, it can help manage side effects, and it can help prevent recurrence. In fact, there is even a branch dedicated to cancer and nutrition research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called the Nutritional Science Research Group, which “promotes and supports studies establishing a comprehensive understanding of the precise role of diet and food components in modulating cancer risk and tumor cell behavior.”

Fight CRC recognizes the importance of nutrition and exercise research for cancer prevention and recurrence. Recently, Fight CRC hosted Meghan Skiba from the University of Arizona to discuss nutrition and diet for colon and rectal cancer prevention with our Research Advocates. Understanding the entire cancer continuum is important for a research advocate to effectively provide their voice in the research process.

If you’re interested in taking Skiba’s survey investigating diet and nutrition, you too can contribute to research!

Fight CRC will continue to keep the colorectal cancer community posted about the latest breaking research information. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to throw an extra clove of garlic or two into your dinner! And be sure to check out Fight CRC’s resource library to learn more about a variety of nutrition topics!

The biggest way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is staying up to date on screening.

Additional Resources

Diet/Nutrition while in treatment: https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/fight/living-crc/diet-nutrition/

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2 comments on “Garlic and Leeks May Ward off CRC”

  1. 1
    Walter Hickman on April 25, 2019

    Hi Sharyn – What do you know about Alkaline foods preventing cancer?

    1. 2
      Sharyn Worrall on June 13, 2019

      Hi Walter,
      Great question! Alkaline diets and alkaline water are trending, for sure, however, what we eat and drink will not alter the pH level of blood. In terms of cancer cell growth, there have been studies of cancer cells (in a dish in the lab, not in people) that suggest cancer cells like an acidic environment. But since what we eat cannot change the pH of our bodies through what we eat, it’s best to stick to a healthy well balanced diet, limiting processed and red meats, etc.

      This is a good topic for the Taboo-ty Podcast! I’ll find an expert to explain pH and how this all works in greater detail!

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